WARNING: May be potentially triggering to anyone struggling with an eating disorder or body image issues
Yesterday’s post about body image is an example of what a good day in recovery looks like. I mentioned that I am still struggling, but was able to find something positive to talk about and focus on. By contrast, today’s post is an example of what a bad day in recovery looks like. This is not meant to discourage anyone from the recovery process. If the option is to choose recovery or let your eating disorder ruin your life, recovery is always the right choice. Like anything else, however, it comes with its ups and its downs. I’m sharing this because this week marks National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Without painting a picture of what eating disorders actually are, there is no awareness.
Today I had a meltdown over a cookie that I didn’t even eat. (Gotta give my therapist a run for her money, right?) That’s one of the stupid things about eating disorders. They make you worry about food and calories to the point that you’re crying in your car, obsessing over meals that you haven’t even consumed yet. Anything out of the norm throws up red flags and hand grenades. Going out to dinner? Forget it. It has to be someplace that I already know has “safe” options or I have to peruse the menu at least twenty times ahead of time so that I can plan accordingly. There’s no such thing as an impromptu dining for me. Going to someone else’s home for dinner is equally as stressful, if not more so, because then you are at the mercy of the host/hostess. If there is nothing safe on then menu, then you either have to force yourself to eat anyway or run the risk of insulting the host. Personally, I don’t like to go to people’s homes and insult them or their cooking, particularly when they went through all the trouble of preparing a meal for me. This means that I usually end up eating whatever is in front of me and pretend that I’m fine. Later, when I get home I end up crying myself to sleep, already planning on making up for it by eating healthy the next day. (On rare darker occasions, I will end up with my head in the toilet, also while crying.)
It’s been 5 months since I started talking to a therapist to try to bounce back from this relapse. 5 months since I’ve actively been working on eating more normally again (aka stop obsessing over “healthy” eating). There are days where I feel like I’ve made progress, even if the steps I’ve taken are little ones. Then there are days like today where I am miserable and crying over cookie that I was too stressed out to even purchase. Some days I can pat myself on the back and say “great job!” Other days I look at what I’m eating now and don’t notice a huge difference from what I was eating 6 or 7 months ago.
I feel like I should be further along. I should be able to occasionally eat french fries or a burger without calling myself a “fat ass” later. I should be able to go out to dinner and just pick what I want off the menu, not what has the least calories or is the healthiest option. I shouldn’t still be having panic attacks over food period. It’s just food! It’s fuel that I need to keep having energy and keep living. Why am I tying “good” and “bad” into it? Why is my happiness dependent on what foods I consume or don’t consume?
It’s been 5 months and I feel like I should be less miserable when it comes to food and my body. This in itself makes me feel guilty. I’m doing something to better my life, yet I’m still miserable. At least before, when I was still letting the eating disorder control everything, I had an excuse to be miserable. What’s my excuse now?
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please reach out for help. Click here for some great resources or call the NEDA helpline directly at (800) 931-2237.